The Malik Report
The Windsor Star's Dave Waddell attended Marcel Pronovost's funeral on Friday, and the former Wings defenseman's status as a legendary defenseman and an even better human being yielded a well-attended but somber event:
Pronovost won five Stanley Cups as a player with Detroit (four) and Toronto (one) and another three as part of the Devils’ scouting staff. The 53 years between his first cup in Detroit (1950) and the Devils last championship (2003) is an NHL record.
The 84-year-old retired defenceman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978 and is a member of four other halls of fame, including the one in his adopted hometown of Windsor.
Yet as family, friends and his peers bid him farewell, it was Pronovost the man they spoke of not his prowess with a puck.
NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations and former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Jim Gregory noted the striking similarities between Pronovost and Montreal legend Jean Beliveau in the classy way they were ambassadors for the game.
“(Retired NHL linesman) Mark Pare (of LaSalle) said to me what stood out was how professional Marcel was,” Gregory said. “That was always the feeling he left with everyone.”
This isn't collusion or tampering. It's in the neighborhood, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi:
Mike Babcock is the only coach to lead teams to hockey's version of the triple crown - titles in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Olympics, and world championships. And, so, yes, with Babcock's Detroit Red Wings knocked out of the playoffs Wednesday, numerous teams are pursuing a man generally regarded as the league's best coach.
Does Ed Snider have a blank check ready?
Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, said that he didn't want to discuss Babcock or the coaching search, but that he was comfortable with whomever general manager Ron Hextall recommended.
"This is Ron Hextall's bailiwick, not mine," Snider said in a phone interview Friday from his California home. "He's the guy who is going to make the decision. If Ron Hextall decided he wanted to hire a certain person and I told him he couldn't, then I shouldn't have Ron Hextall as my GM, right? "I don't ever veto a GM's choice," he added. "It's my job to be informed and I ask a lot of questions, but don't bring me into the coach's decision."
Any Flyers fan will tell you that "the coach's decisoins" in Philly are subject to owner's approval, which is why I don't think Babcock would ever go to Philly. Anyway...
Updated 21 dang times at 6:30 PM: Okay, I did my best to summarize what Mike Babcock had to say and the various Tweets of those who attended the Wings' locker room clean-out day, and now here comes the cavalcade of clean-out-day articles.
Here's the first wave:
The Edmonton Journal leads us off with a Canadian Press-authored summary of the Babcock-Holland exchange...
Holland said he and Babcock, whom he described as “an unrestricted free agent in the prime of his career,” talked briefly Friday morning and will meet again to talk about a new deal early next week.
"I want Mike to stay, I’ve expressed that to him,” Holland told reporters at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. “Money is no object."
Updated with video @ 1:54 PM: Babcock on Periscope TV tells the media that he hasn't decided anything about his future, that he's going to speak to Ken Holland over the next 10 days and may go to Grand Rapids on Sunday to talk about it; he talked about his wife about it yesterday; there's been no grandioise plan, he's been trying to get into the playoffs and execute well in the playoffs, and this will be the next thing.
There's no odds on anything, there hasn't been enough thinking about it. They lost, he felt terrible about it, as bad as he felt as a Red Wings coach after the loss and yesterday, Z Pav and Kronwall are the best leadership group he's been around in pro sport, and their window isn't as long as the kids, the Wings had 15 kids under 28 at one point and the Wings need the push for their kids, when he first got here Z, Pav and Kronwall were making the older kids better and gave the Wings a three-year run in 7, 8 and 9, the Wings need to have another run. They're not a million miles away, when they played in Games 3-7, you feel like you're a Cup contender, but when you lose in the 1st round for 3 years, you feel depressed, it's depressing.
The Red Wings gathered at Joe Louis Arena to officially wrap up their regular-season activities with a team picture and a final media availability, and I'm just going to post "rolling updates" here:
Roose also reported...this...
Toronto media at The Joe today. Humm. An unusual sight for locker clean-out day. <sarcasm>
The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno's probably in attendance, and he's already written a Babcock article...
No comment regarding this, either:
Among TSN's Darren Dreger's latest points in his "Dreger Report" (they include the Dion Phaneuf sweepstakes or lack thereof, given that Dreger suggests that the Leafs might want Anthony Mantha or Teemu Pulkkinen in exchange, which are no-gos for the Wings):
AIn a brief conversation with Babcock on Thursday, mere hours after the Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a Game 7 showdown with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Babcock clearly stated he has made no decision on whether to stay or test the market, and has no sense of timing as to when the dance will end.
Dreger says that Babcock's family may end up making the decision for him in terms of staying or going...
There is no question the Red Wings very much want Babcock back. However, the Wings aren't going to engage in a bidding war, or wrestle with a rival organization willing to crack open the vault with an offer that rockets into the 20's: as in $25-30 million on a five- or six-year term.
That's not to say Detroit doesn't have the wiggle room to sweeten what is already believed to be a standing offer significantly north of $3 million per season. The Red Wings are willing to listen and through ongoing discussions with Holland will need to completely understand what it's going to take to make Mike Babcock a Red Wing for life.
In the meantime, Edmonton, Toronto, Buffalo and Philadelphia are ready for the auction to begin. Each club’s brass likely prepped for a sales pitch laced with glowing roster reports and promise of strategies in play to swiftly develop their team into Stanley Cup contenders. Each will dole out the ingredients and suggest Babcock is the only thing missing from the recipe.
Ahead of locker room clean-out day, and as I watch the USA-Finland World Championship game on NBCSN, I have five very disparate articles for you to peruse ahead of locker room clean-out day.
First, if you were unaware, the Wings have officially assigned Alexey Marchenko to the Grand Rapids Griffins ahead of tomorrow's 4th game of the Marlies-Griffins series:
Second, the Free Press's Helene St. James has an update on Johan Franzen's status from WIngs GM Ken Holland, and it's...concerning:
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson wrote quite the missive explaining how Mike Babcock's connections to the Edmonton Oilers' management, along with the whole, "Oilers winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes" factor, will bring Babcock to Edmonton, and the Edmonton Journal's David Staples has more on that topic;
Sportsnet's Damien Cox is convinced that Babcock's headed to Philadelphia, even though Ed Snider meddles in his team's personnel decisions; our friends from Buffalo keep reminding us that Sabres GM Tim Murray worked with Babcock in Anaheim, and that Jack Eichel and the Sabres' prospects aren't chopped liver; USA Today's Kevin Allen's expanded the, "Might want to hire Babcock" field to 8 teams, and some of our friends from Toronto would be absolutely tickled pink if the Wings lost both Babcock and Jeff Blashill's services (fat chance), and the Associated Press's Noah Trister put the Wings' situation this way:
But simply being competitive in the early rounds of the playoffs isn't the expectation in Detroit. The Red Wings have developed good talent through their minor league system, but they've struggled of late to make any major additions via trades or free agency.
Now Babcock is a free agent, and Red Wings fans can do little but wait to see what he decides to do — as the offseason begins earlier than Detroit wanted.
The problem with that narrative, as Ken Holland might tell you, is that Mike Babcock's under contract with the Detroit Red Wings until 11:59 PM on June 30th, 2015, and until the clock hits July 1st, Detroit doesn't have to let any team speak with Babcock unless it chooses to give its permission.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Holland, however, hopes he doesn't need to interview anyone and that Babcock will return.
"We got a great relationship," Holland said. "I think he's done a fabulous job with the team. We want him back. I expressed that.
"Mike has been here 10 years. He knows our players, he knows how we operate, knows the owner, knows how passionate the fan base is, knows we got a new rink coming. I think those are all advantages."
Holland is not concerned that players might tune-out the hard-driving Babcock.
"Other than 5-6 players, most of these players Mike has coached for three years or less," Holland said. "They respect the coach, respond to the coach, work hard for the coach."
Update: Also, from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
"He’s in the driver’s seat,” Holland said. “He’s one of the top coaches in the game, if not the top coach and he’s in the prime of his career. Our hope is that Mike wants to stay,” Holland continued. “He’s positioned himself to have the option to explore.”
from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,
Consistency eluded them.
The Red Wings were capable of outplaying better teams. But sometimes, as in Games 4 and 7 against the Lightning, they would lose, regardless.
They took a ton of penalties, a worrisome development utterly uncharacteristic of "Red Wings hockey."
Their developing defensemen are not yet capable of providing enough defense or offense from the back end to take them to the conference semifinals, let alone the Stanley Cup.
Their need for another goal scorer is perennial, and rarely more obvious than in Game 7 against the Lightning.
A new sniper is evermore necessary, now, because of Johan Franzen's concussions, Erik Cole's heartbreaking spinal injury, the major disappointment of Stephen Weiss, the preseason retirement of Daniel Alfredsson and the aging of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.